Terrible summer of fires in Algeria, which local media are already comparing to the summer of 2021, the cruelest in the country's history. The authorities are battling more than a hundred active outbreaks, especially in the north and east of the country.
According to the latest figures provided by the Algerian Civil Protection Agency to the EFE news agency, the number of people killed in the fires has risen to 37. The Algerian Minister of the Interior, Kamal Beljoub, appeared on national television to report on this terrible wave of fires.
The interior minister also said, according to the Arabic-language Asharq television, that many of the fires were probably arson. The authorities have announced that the guilty parties will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and there has been talk of 30 years in prison or life imprisonment.
President Tebboune also appeared before the Algerian media to express his condolences to the families of the victims, and promised to mobilise all the state's resources to deal with the fires.
The worst hit are the wilayas (provinces) of Tarf, Setif and Souk Ahras. In Tarf, the fire threatens to spread to neighbouring Tunisia, while in Setif it is spreading across the hills near the El Mahouane reservoir. In Souk Ahras the fire is the closest to a major population centre.
The Algerian authorities reported that at least 350 families had been evacuated to prevent further deaths. 700 members of the Algerian Civil Protection are busy containing the fires, assisted by members of the armed forces in a coordinated effort by the country's top fire-fighting authority.
According to EFE news agency, the fires have destroyed around 14,000 hectares of forest in the wilaya of Tarf and reached 11 municipalities on Thursday afternoon. The prime minister of the Tebboune government, Aimen Benabderrahmane, travelled to the area the same day to personally assess the situation and announce a series of aid measures for families affected by the fires.
EFE reports that the People's National Army has deployed several transport helicopters to help with the evacuations, 280 tankers and a Russian-made Beriev tanker, which unfortunately broke down after work on Wednesday and will not be operational again until Saturday, according to the interior minister.
Algeria is repeating the episodes experienced in the summer of 2021, which was declared the worst in the country's history, when 90 people died. Every summer Algeria is on alert. The country reaches temperatures of over 48 degrees Celsius during the summer.
In 2021, the Kabylia region was the hardest hit by fires that broke out in two waves during the summer and sowed the seeds of discord among Algerians, who lynched the alleged perpetrators of the fires in an escalation of violence. The harsh episode of arson also sparked an international solidarity movement with Algeria. Morocco went so far as to offer to help in the firefighting effort.